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HHS releases national data strategy to achieve better health outcomes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its data strategy to improve human health outcomes. The goal is to make data available, accessible, timely, equitable, meaningfully usable and protected so that it can be used effectively by HHS, its partners and the public to improve public health, according to Thursday’s announcement.


The data strategy is also designed to promote greater access to data to advance cancer research under the goal of the Biden Cancer Moonshot, an initiative that seeks to cut the cancer death rate in half over the next 25 years. 

“This data strategy is a pivotal step forward in our commitment to utilizing data as a strategic asset to drive innovation and improve outcomes in health and human services,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm in a statement. 

HHS outlines five priorities – cultivating data talent, fostering data sharing, integrating data into program operations, enabling whole person care by connecting human services data and responsibly leveraging artificial intelligence – to improve its data infrastructure and capabilities department-wide.

The new HHS data strategy also includes an expansion of the role of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to include the coordination of human services interoperability in addition to its current role in enabling interoperability in the U.S. healthcare system.

Several near-term initiatives have started under those priorities, according to HHS.

One of those is CancerX Data Sprint, an ongoing collaboration that convened more than 150 CancerX member organizations from industry and government partners to support the establishment of domain-specific data element lists as extensions to the existing United States Core Data for Interoperability’s oncology extension.

“Better integration of healthcare delivery and human services is critical to strengthening whole person care, advancing health equity and improving customer experience,” National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Micky Tripathi added in the statement.

“ONC has focused for many years on increasing patient-centered healthcare interoperability, and we are eager to support the HHS Data Strategy’s vision for human services interoperability.” 

To achieve Cancer Moonshot and other population health goals, the use of artificial intelligence to process healthcare’s vast amount of protected data is essential.

“The administration is pulling every lever it has to enhance the responsible use of AI in health fields but we cannot achieve the bold vision the president laid out for the company with U.S. action alone,” Danielle Carnival, deputy assistant to the president for the Cancer Moonshot and deputy director for health outcomes, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said from the ONC’s annual meeting on Thursday. 

“Leading healthcare payers and providers have announced volunteer commitments on the safe, secure and trustworthy purchase of AI and healthcare,” she said. 


HHS and ONC have been working together and with others to help shape a digital healthcare system of the future that prioritizes data exchange and explainable AI and private organizations are joining them.

With cancer the second leading cause of death in the U.S. and cancer survivors’ likelihood to declare bankruptcy being 2.5 times more than the rest of the population, private sector organizations like Oracle joined CancerX to improve these metrics.

In August, Oracle said by participating it aims to help define the value of digital innovation in cancer treatment, by addressing methodological and implementation gaps and developing best practices for the equitable adoption of digital health technologies at scale in oncology.

“Multi-stakeholder collaboration is critical to harness the potential of digital innovation in the fight against cancer, and we’re honored to partner with Oracle to achieve the ambitious goals of CancerX,” Smit Patel, associate program director at the Digital Medicine Society, said in Oracle’s announcement.


“Synthesizing the vast amount of data across the full spectrum of cancer research and clinical care will be our best bet for reducing the cancer death rate by 50% within 25 years,” said Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, director of the National Institutes of Health. “The Data Strategy will focus HHS activities on developing and implementing clinical data standards and expanding secure access to the data with the goal of unlocking the next generation of cancer prevention and treatment.”

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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